Ever since the Chief Judge identified (though begrudgingly) the electronic monitoring program as her office's means to cut the required 3.25% from its budget in 2017, we have had quite a bit of misinformation out there. Some coming from members of the County Board, others coming from the candidates hoping to be elected to the County Board, and still others who simply wish to offer opinions on Facebook, Twitter and so on. Enough phillonious information has made its way around the web, that I thought we would take a moment to clear things up. Here are five points to remember...
- The Kane County Board DID NOT discontinue the Electronic Monitoring Program - Chief Judge Boles did. Under the Illinois state statute, there is an often discussed clause known as the "Internal Control Statute." This clause prevents the County Board from effectively telling any Countywide Office how to run their office. In order to balance the FY2018 Budget, the County Board approved a 3.25% cut to every department and office. How the various departments accomplished this cut was solely their discretion. Judge Boles sent an email to the Board stating that if we forced her to make the 3.25% cut, this is what she would cut. She did state that she did not want to cut the program. Truthfully, I don't think there was a single person on the Board who wanted to cut this program.
- The Kane County Board CANNOT bring back the Electronic Monitoring Program - Only a Department Head or Countywide Official can. It is not within our power or authority to tell a Countywide Office holder to bring back one of our favorite programs. The Internal Control Statute prevents us from either cutting or reinstating a program, no matter how terrible or fantastic it might be. The departments directly controlled by the County Board include Transportation, Development, Public Health, and Veterans Affairs. Currently the Chief Judge and Sheriff Kramer are meeting with members of the Board to discuss what this program could look like if brought back in-house, and how it might be funded.
- Every Member of the Kane County Board WANTS Electronic Monitoring Reinstated (including the Chairman) - But the majority want to insure there is sustainable funding moving forward. That is the key difference. If we raid the reserves for a one time fix, we are essentially setting up Judge Boles to fail by forcing her hand to cut the program down the line. That isn't fair to Judge Boles, and it is especially not fair to those residents who are served by the program. If you have an ongoing anticipated expense, you need an ongoing reliable funding source to pay for it. Do you pay for your mortgage with Lottery Tickets? Your gas bill with your annual tax refund? Of course not. If we use reserve funding to pay for an ongoing operating expense we will in turn drain the reserves and place Kane County in a position where we have neither the resources to pay for the program nor the means to fund capital projects.
- The County could use RTA Funds to pay it moving forward - But then we would lose out on matching grant money from the state and federal government for road projects. Government is a balancing act of epic proportion. While we focus our efforts in solving one issue we cannot lose sight on how it will adversely affect other services and departments. Many of our road projects (whether construction or maintenance) is paid in part through grant monies obtained through the state and federal government. These grants require the County to provide matching funds. Without the RTA Funds the County would need to space out the repairs and construction over longer periods of time, which often leads to congestion and poor road quality as the pace of road construction falls behind the pace of development. When folks point to DuPage County as an example, they neglect to mention the considerably higher commercial tax base DuPage enjoys. Kane County is by design a diverse county with a calculated mix of rural and urban regions.
- Eliminating the program puts dangerous people on the streets - But more likely it increases the jail population. Kane County is unquestionably safer with this program in place (hence the third point listed above), but it is important to remember that criminals deemed a threat can be held in jail rather than released on bail. This is at the discretion of the Judge presiding over the sentencing.